Jean Marie Ward

fiction, nonfiction and all points in between

Excerpt: “The Gap in the Fence”

Art by Kelli Neier


Ten-year-old Ana will do anything to save her best friend’s dog–even challenge the fairies who live beyond “The Gap in the Fence”…

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The corners of the fairy’s eyes crinkled, like he was hiding a smile under his beard, but it didn’t last. “Nothing like that. I’m sorry. I can’t stop anybody from dying. There’re some things you just can’t fix.”

“Then what can you do? There’s got to be something.”

Gurt and all the birds seemed to gasp at once. Even the leaves seemed to hold their breath. The man’s bushy eyebrows lifted.

“What do you want of me?”

His voice sounded different somehow. It was still slow and gravelly, but there was something sharp and cold underneath the words that brought back all my fear. Me and my big mouth—Mom always said it would get me in trouble.
He waited for me to say something, staring at me from under his eyebrows with eyes as hard as his voice. “What do you want of me?”

A cloud passed overhead, shadowing his face. Gurt ogled us with big saucer eyes. Her head turned from side to side to keep us both in view.

What I wanted was for him to save my best friend’s dog from dying, but he said he couldn’t. At least I thought he did. I wanted to be smarter, so I’d know what he meant and what I was supposed to say. But this might be my only chance. My head whirled with all the bad things about to happen—Willy dragged away from the people who loved him when he was sick and hurting, Shari waking up to find out her mom… I couldn’t finish the thought any more than I could face her and tell her what her mom was going to do.

“What. Do. You. Want?”

The breeze roared into a wind. My hair skinned away from my face. Branches as big as my whole body shook. The grass bowed flat. The fairy hadn’t moved, but he seemed to have grown until he was too big to see without lifting my head. I almost peed my pants, but I knew if I broke and ran, he’d be on me in a second. Then I’d be dead. There was only one thing to do.

Read more in Athena’s Daughters
2014, Silence in the Library Publishing
Available from Amazon, and One More Page Books.
Cover by Kelli Neier